Anyone who has visited this site probably already knows that I’m a huge Busby Berkeley fan and we even have a section devoted to the great director and also a page for the film, 42nd Street, which was Berkeley’s first major work and a huge success.
When I attended the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival last week, seeing a pristine restored print of 42nd Street on the big screen was a must see for me and it was immediately added to my schedule. I waited in line for over an hour to get into the theater that was packed with fellow Berkeley fans. The film looked just fabulous and it was a real treat for me. I had seen it on the big screen once before in a film history class in college, but this print was great to see since I knew I was seeing it as audiences in 1933 saw it. Also, seeing it with an audience was a treat listening to the parts that made them laugh and cry; so much fun.
Naughty, gaudy, bawdy, sporty 42ND STREET just got a facelift and the world premiere of a new restoration was shown that the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival. The film brought back the musical just a few years after a glut of all-singing, all-dancing movies had made the form box-office poison. Originally, Warner Bros. production head Darryl F. Zanuck had planned to film Bradford Ropes’ steamy “putting-on-a-show” novel as a straight comedy with musical numbers in the background and the focus on non-musical performers Loretta Young and Kay Francis. Realizing the right musical numbers could make the picture stand out, he recruited dance director Busby Berkeley—on the verge of quitting Hollywood after eight films—to create a series of eye-popping numbers to songs like “Shuffle Off to Buffalo” and the title tune. For the first time, Berkeley demonstrated the potential of the film musical, creating numbers that, though ostensibly part of a big Broadway show, would never fit on any stage. At the center was a surprising new star, Ruby Keeler, whose youthful exuberance, particularly when teamed with boy singer Dick Powell, was just what Depression-era audiences needed. She went into her first billed film role as a youngster, but when the picture opened, she came back a star.
If you haven’t seen the film before, it is a MUST SEE for all film historians or those that just love the Berkeley magic.
At the section here devoted to 42nd Street, we have lots of videos that you can watch, below is just one example of the films signature number:
Be sure to check our our very extensive section devoted to Busby Berkeley and all of his films here: